“In this wonderful gem of a book, Andy Rotman offers us a compelling translation of a set of ten Sanskrit Buddhist stories about ‘hungry ghosts’ (preta) taken from the Avadānaśataka (“One Hundred Stories”), an important early Indian anthology of Buddhist narratives. Rotman has brought them into the limelight and shown how important they are for Buddhists and for all of us. Hungry Ghosts will become a standard work on the subject.”
—John Strong, Charles A. Dana Emeritus Professor of Religious and Asian Studies, Bates College
The realm of hungry ghosts is one of the unfortunate realms of rebirth in the Buddhist cycle of existence, and those reborn there are said to have led lives consumed by greed and spite. In one of the earliest sources about hungry ghosts, translated here, hungry ghosts know the error of their ways, and they sometimes appear among humans, like the ghosts that haunt Ebenezer Scrooge, as augurs of what may await. Artistic depictions of the travails of hungry ghosts are found throughout the Buddhist world, and some of the best examples are reproduced and richly described here. Discover how an understanding of the meanness (matsārya) that afflicts hungry ghosts illuminates the human condition, offering insight and inspiring compassion for readers both in ancient times and today.
“Rotman brings new life to old stories about hungry ghosts, and he provides unique insight into their development and their importance even for modern Buddhism. A must-read for students of Buddhist thought and art.”
—Monika Zin, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Leipzig University